Grades of Wild American Ginseng

How we grade our ginseng at Bat Cave Botanicals

 

American ginseng has been sought after since the 1700s, and Asian ginseng has been valuable for thousands of years. Wild american ginseng is considered to be the best in the world, and these days are considerably more valuable than commercially farmed ginseng or Asian varieties.

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The price of ginseng varies from year to year, but the one constant is the demand for wild ginseng roots with potency & ‘character’. The harvest region, season, age of the root, size, condition (fresh or dried) and many other factors contribute to the value of ginseng. The price of our ginseng roots are determined by our customer’s demand for rare & meticulously handled roots that are ethically harvested as well as inspected & certified by the state.

By Federal & State Laws, it is only legal to sell plants 5 years or older. This means that there needs to be an intact neck on the root showing that there are 5 or more node scars, in order to prove the legal age.

1) Age Range: When the neck is still attached, it can be easy to count the scars on the neck, and estimate an accurate age range.  Sometimes, there is  damage to the neck of the roots, thereby making it harder to figure an approximate scar count and age range. Many root no longer possess their original neck, therefore it is only possible to estimate the age. Sometimes, extra gnarly roots have necks that twist and have many roots attached. This can be typical to excellent wild ginseng roots. Experts say that the older the root, the harder it is to morphologically confirm the age by counting the bud scale scars.

2) Root Size: Superior quality wild ginseng roots vary greatly in size, from small to extra large or extra long (meaning the long hair like feeder roots). Root size is not always a judge of value, as harsh environments often produce very old roots that are quite small in size. This is obvious when there are long ‘necks’ on small plants.

3) Root Shape: Wild ginseng can range in shape from long & slender, forked, double & triple or more roots from one neck, to “bulby” & very thick. The prized wild man root is a root that resembles the shape of a person, with or without genitalia. Many other kinds of gnarly shapes are popular as well, usually formed by the harsh environment and shows the character of the ginseng.

4) Color: Root color varies, depending on the soil in which the plant grows. Black & very dark soil is by far the best soil for ginseng as it likes to grow under trees that drop their leaves every year. This results in a dark rich loamy soil, which has a tendency to color the roots dark.

5) Skin Texture: Wild ginseng usually has a densely wrinkled texture. It is important that the dark soil in which it grew be apparent in these wrinkles. This is a major factor in premium roots.
6) Taste or region: Similar to wine & climates, different regions produce different tastes of ginseng. Taste does not necessarily affect the potency of the ginseng.

 

Grade A

Age : 8 – 20 years of age

Size : small to medium size premium roots with lots of fine feeder roots attached

Shape : various shapes and often a mix of slender, or bulby roots

Color : medium dark to dark, with black soil in the wrinkles

Skin Texture : wrinkly to knarly
Grade AA

Age : 12 – 20 years of age

Size : small to large roots of excellent quality with lots of fine feeder roots attached

Shape : mix of slender, bulby and multi-bulbed roots

Color : medium dark to dark, with black soil in the wrinkles

Skin Texture : wrinkly to knarly
Grade AAA

Age : 15 – 60+ years of age

Size : medium, large & extra large superior quality roots with extra long fine roots

Shape : exceptional roots with character, form & beauty

Color : medium dark to dark, with black soil in the wrinkles

Skin Texture : wrinkly &  knarly

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